In the news: Doctors in Maharashtra attacked by patients' kin, South Asia pledges to end TB and more

A wrap of the week's health headlines.

Three instances of doctors being beaten up by relatives of patients who died during treatment were reported last week in Maharashtra.

On March 12, a resident doctor from Dhule Civil Hospital was assaulted by the relatives of an accident victim. The doctor reportedly suggested that the patient, who had suffered serious head injuries, be taken to a tertiary care hospital where a neurosurgeon could attend to him. This provoked a mob of about 20 people to beat him till he was unconscious.

The mob vandalised the hospital and attacked Dr Rohan Mhamunkar with rods and chairs, reported the Indian Express. Mhamunkar, 35, suffered serious to his eye and chest and became unconscious after the attack, as can be seen in the CCTV footage of the incident below. He is undergoing treatment in a Mumbai hospital.


On Thursday, a doctor and nurse were allegedly manhandled by the relatives of a patient who died of H1N1 influenza or swine flu in Nashik. The 40-year-old patient was reportedly brought to the hospital in a serious condition. When nurse Charusheela Ingle informed his relatives of his death, they allegedly assaulted her and the doctor, Rahul Patil.

On Saturday evening, a resident doctor of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Mumbai was allegedly assaulted by relatives of a 60-year old woman who died during treatment. The woman was suffering from chronic kidney disease, the doctors said.

On Wednesday, the state unit of the The Indian Medical Association held a rally at Azad Maidan in Mumbai to protest against frequent attacks on doctors and hospital staff, in light of the assault in Dhule.

In an opinion piece published in the Mumbai Mirror in 2015, Dr Sanjay Nagral, publisher of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, said the problem of violence against doctors moves beyond providing security. “Violence against health care workers is a complex problem with origins in a deficient health care mechanism, inadequate communication, rising costs, increased expectations and instigation by community leaders,” he said.

Online portal to regulate sale of antibiotics

The Union Health Ministry has proposed the creation of an online platform to regulate the sale of medicines in India. This will also include the sale of drugs online.

The portal will be developed and maintained by an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “The objective of such regulation would be to ensure availability of right drugs that meet the standards of quality to every person, in need of medicines, curbing anti-microbial resistance and also regulating supply of medicines through online/internet to persons or other entities in outside India,” a government circular said.

Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of microbes to become immune to the effects of drugs that are supposed to kill them over time. One of the reasons for this is the overuse of such medicines and to counter this, efforts are being made is to promote the rational use of antimicrobials. This includes regulating over the counter sale of antibiotics, which drug regulators have failed to do in India.

As per the proposal, all manufacturers, stockists, distributors and pharmacies will have to register on the portal and those who are unregistered will not be licensed to sell medicines. All medicines will be bar-coded so that each sale can be tracked. The chemist will also have to enter the details of doctor who prescribed the medicine, whose registration number under the Medical Council of India will be recorded. The government has sought comments from the public till April 15 before they finalise the proposal.

Southeast Asia pledges to work towards ending TB

On Wednesday, health ministers from Southeast Asian countries signed a Call for Action to end TB. The countries, including India, which collectively have half the tuberculosis patients in the world, pledged to scale up efforts to reduce TB mortality by 90% and incidence by 80% by 2030.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda said India has pledged to end the disease by 2025, earlier than the global deadline. In 2015, TB caused nearly 8 lakh deaths in the Southeast Asian region and an estimated 40.74 lakh new cases were reported. India alone had 20.8 lakh new cases and an estimated 478,000 deaths.

Apart from India, the countries with a large burden of TB include Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh.

The World Health Organisation said in a release that the annual decline in the incidence of TB is a low 1.5% to 2% and needs to be scaled up to at least 10%-15% to meet targets.

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